ATLANTA - The former executive assistant to the chairman of the Georgia Republican Party has filed a federal lawsuit claiming race discrimination.
Qiana Keith of Gainesville filed the lawsuit against the Georgia GOP and Chairman John Padgett on Tuesday, saying she was subjected to racial slurs and discrimination from co-workers because she is black. She said she was fired March 31 after complaining to her boss. She seeks unspecified damages and attorney fees as well as job reinstatement.
Georgia GOP's lawyer, Anne Lewis, said in a statement Wednesday that Keith was terminated for "consistently poor job performance" and that an internal investigation found no merit to her claims.
"The party and Chairman Padgett will vigorously defend themselves in court against these completely unfounded claims," Lewis said.
The lawsuit alleges violations under the federal Civil Rights Act. In the lawsuit, Keith describes herself as a supporter of the Republican Party and an active volunteer. She said she was hired shortly after Padgett was elected chair after being recommended by a former boss.
The lawsuit alleges a pattern of discrimination by Georgia GOP employees. The suit says Keith was told to no longer park in the front of the building but in the last available spot, was replaced as the chairman's escort to an annual dinner by a white man and was told "that she made a mistake by seating a black member of the Republican Party at the head table with the chairman." Keith also said she overheard one employee use a racial slur in reference to her and another make a derogatory remark.
Padgett is sued in his official capacity as chair. The lawsuit doesn't make any specific claims about Padgett.